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With the development of nation-states after 1789, civilians and even more so authorities were expected to be loyal with regard to their country. Cooperation with a foreign occupier was considered high treason and made punishable by law. In the long nineteenth century, the balance of power ensured that this phenomenon did not occur. During World War I, the warring parties tried to detach national minorities of the enemy from their patriotic loyalty, and thus some collaboration movements developed, but they remained marginal phenomena. During World War II, the far-reaching cooperation of parts of the population not only with the German, Italian, and Japanese occupiers, but also with Allied occupiers, was an important phenomenon, whereby the collaborators of one side were the allies of the other. After World War II, the phenomenon also existed in contexts of occupation and colonization.

The focus herein is on collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II. The notion of Collaboration (with a capital C) is often found having this meaning, so that the term immediately takes on a subjective and morally loaded interpretation, especially in languages other than English. In English, collaboration (with a small c) is a neutral term with which the many and divergent forms of cooperation of an occupied nation with an occupier can be denoted. In the standard literature and in this article too, the terms cooperation and accommodation are used for this concept.

A distinction should also be made between the occupied nation's cooperation with the occupier to make everyday life possible, and collaboration, that is, the purposeful cooperation of groups and individuals to help realize the occupier's policies. Only a small part of the population was prepared to do the latter, a part that was approximately as large as the part of the population that appeared to be prepared to actively offer resistance. The major part of the population adjusted to occupation circumstances, which to a certain extent implied cooperation with the occupier. The Hague Convention of 1907 actually prescribed that the occupied authorities had to cooperate with the occupier insofar as that cooperation did not infringe the laws of the occupied country. In practice, this principle did not result in a clear dividing line between legally permitted cooperation and unlawful cooperation. The fortunes of war affected the boundary between what was considered morally acceptable and morally unacceptable or, in other words, the difference between collaboration and cooperation. When in 1943 the fortunes of war turned definitively to Germany's detriment, cooperation was less approved of than at the beginning of the war, when Germany seemed set for long-term domination of continental Europe.

The circumstances of occupation also affected collaboration and cooperation. There were essential differences between western Europe on the one hand and parts of eastern Europe and the Balkans on the other. At the same time, the occupier's divide-and-rule policy aimed to exploit the occupied countries and the definitive dominance of Germany and Nazification of the "Germanic" core territory. There were differences in the degree to which force and violence were employed to achieve these objectives. In western Europe, the occupying powers were prepared to negotiate with part of the administrative elite, because parts of the social and economic fabric should not be too highly disrupted to exploit them efficiently. The occupiers made room for enforced cooperation, whereby the local elites sometimes succeeded in mitigating the consequences of the occupation, if only because violence stayed within limits. This "policy of the lesser of two evils" was not unideological, because the degree to which the local elites were prepared to negotiate depended on their attitude to a new (social) order or, in other words, on their adherence to liberal-democratic principles. Moreover, the "policy of the lesser of two evils" appeared to be a slippery slope down which organizations and people in positions of authority slid across the boundary into collaboration. But in general their intentions differed from those of the collaborators who supported the Nazification project for ideological, political, or personal reasons. The notion of "collaborationism"—mainly used in the French literature—is appropriate for this ideology-driven collaboration. Not every collaborator, however, was driven by ideological motives. Personal motives frequently played a part. Because of the relatively stable social context in which collaboration developed, collaborator violence remained within limits. Only at the end of the occupation did more excesses occur, which are called "criminal" collaboration.

In large parts of eastern Europe and the Balkans, the occupier pursued the rapid destruction of civil society and total subjugation of the indigenous population to enable a German-Germanic colonization. Stirring up internal civil wars by exploiting national, ethnic, and religious differences was part of this strategy. Therefore, for the subjugated population, cooperation with the occupier was often a survival strategy, one that was detached from ideological considerations and often the consequence of local circumstances and coincidence. Almost inevitably, collaboration with the occupier implied excessive violence so that collaboration and criminal behavior became synonymous.

The fate of the Jewish population and Gypsies went beyond the difference between east and west. The Nazis pursued their total destruction from 1941 on. But whereas Jews and Gypsies from western Europe were deported to Poland to be murdered there, in the Balkans and eastern Europe this often happened in situ with the cooperation of collaborators. These were peaks in the already high curve of violence.

The use of excessive violence and the genocidal policy of Nazi Germany deepened the moral rejection of those who collaborated with that regime. At times the term traitors is used as a synonym for collaborators. Traitors in the narrow sense refers to collaborators who literally gave away compatriots to the occupier and/or exposed them to persecution. In the broad sense it concerns those who cooperated with the occupier for political-ideological reasons. The collaborators' political organizations were the core of the multiple forms of cooperation.


In western Europe, collaboration was embodied in the first place by fascist (in a generic sense) organizations that supported the National Socialist new order. These were minority movements that could attract only a few percent of the population. Some had been in contact with the Third Reich from before the war and were therefore often considered as a German "fifth column" in their own country. Nevertheless, these organizations were always also ultranationalistic. Confronted with German imperialism in the new ordering of Europe dictated by Berlin, the leaders of these movements put the expected, promised, or acquired positions of power before their nationalistic convictions. They were also all prepared to cooperate with the SS, a political organization founded by Heinrich Himmler aimed at the annexation of the territory considered as German and the formation of a Germanic-German elite. Local fascist leaders could acquire positions of power only to the degree that they were prepared to cooperate in the German exploitation of their country. Their followers were brought into the German war machine and the occupation of their country. Thus political collaboration always led to other forms of collaboration in the field of administration, economy, the military, and the police.

In Norway, the leader of the Nasjonal Samling (NS; National Unity), Vidkun Quisling, led a putsch immediately after the German invasion on 9 April 1940. This fact highly impressed the largely still unoccupied Europe. Quisling's name became a synonym for treason and collaboration, so that quislings still lives on as a term for collaborators during World War II, especially in the English language. Quisling was rejected en masse by the Norwegian population, which is the reason why a German Reichskommissar was appointed. With the latter's help, the NS infiltrated the Norwegian government and Quisling was appointed prime minister on 1 February 1942. The members of his party were then brought in at all levels of the Norwegian administration. The seizure of power by the NS was very substantial, especially at a local level.

Because Denmark offered hardly any military resistance to the German invasion, the country supposedly retained its neutral status, and the prewar parties and politicians remained in charge. The Danish state was forced to far-reaching samarbejdspolitikken (cooperation) with Germany, but formally retained its sovereignty. In March and May 1943, national and local elections were even held, in which the Danmarks Nationalsocialistiske Arbejderparti (Danish Nazi Party) gained only 2 percent of the votes, drawing some support only among the German minority in Jutland. Even when the Danish government resigned and the country became officially occupied in mid-1943, the Danish Nazi Party played only a minor role.

In France, after the French armistice on 22 June 1940, the Vichy regime (so-called because its headquarters were situated in the town of Vichy) came into being under the leadership of Marshal Philippe Pétain, who had been appointed leader of the government and who from then on was to govern an unoccupied zone as head of state. The Vichy regime enjoyed formal sovereignty, which was possible only because Pétain was prepared to carry out far-reaching cooperation with Germany. The French head of state literally used the term collaboration after his meeting with Adolf Hitler on 24 October 1940, by which he meant the French state's cooperation with Germany. Under prime ministers Pierre Laval and François Darlan, the Vichy regime developed de facto into a police state; it handed over Jews to the Nazis, and was unable to offer protection to its own population, culminating in the German military administration taking over all of France in November 1942. The rank and file of the Vichy regime consisted of conservative right-wing forces, some of whom were convinced fascists and/or favored Germany's final victory. Cooperation very quickly became collaboration (or "collaborationism" in the French context of the notion). In France, there were also some collaborating political parties: the Parti Populaire Français under the leadership of Jacques Doriot and the Rassemblement National Populaire under the leadership of Marcel Déat, which mainly supplied manpower for the eastern fronts and against armed resistance by their own compatriots. Finally, collaborating factions were active in the Breton and French-Flemish regionalist and nationalistic movement.

After the capitulation on 15 May 1940, a civilian government was established in the Netherlands that cooperated with the Dutch administrative machinery. Anton Mussert, the leader of the Nationaal-Socialistische Beweging (NSB; National Socialist Movement), claimed political power in vain. Only after the new order–minded Nederlandse Unie (Netherlands Union)—a popular movement that soon had hundreds of thousands of members—did not cooperate adequately did the occupier force the NSB into the Dutch administration.

In Belgium, because of the presence of the head of state in the occupied country, a military government of occupation was installed after the capitulation on 28 May 1940, which meant that Hitler officially still kept the political future of Belgium open. When no modus vivendi resulted from a meeting between the Belgian king and Hitler in November 1940, the occupation administration gave support to the Vlaams Nationaal Verbond (Flemish National Union), a Flemishnationalistic, pan-Dutch, and fascist party. The party was allocated administrative positions and mainly gained power in local governments. It was not given any official governmental power and had to tolerate that the SS leaders founded a Greater-German countermovement. This was initially the Flemish SS and then, from 1941, the German-Flemish Labor Community. Because the Nazis did not consider French-speaking Belgians and Walloons as Germans, the leader of the Rex fascist party, Léon Degrelle, received little support. His military and political star rose only when he volunteered as a soldier for the battle on the eastern front. Degrelle was able to convince Hitler that the Walloons should be considered as Romanized Germanics. He joined the Waffen-SS and founded a military recruitment reserve and a police force against the Belgian resistance. On 12 July 1944 Belgium was annexed to the German Reich in the shape of a Reichsgau Flandern ([German] Province of Flanders) and Reichsgau Wallonien ([German] Province of Wallonia).

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was actually annexed as early as 1940, and military conscription was introduced in 1942. The Volksdeutsche Bewegung (Movement of German Peoples) under the leadership of Damian Kratzenberg grouped together annexionist collaborators. It remained a small movement in spite of the fact that civil servants were obliged to join.


World War II started with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the destruction of Polish civil society. The German occupation of western Poland and from 22 June 1941 the whole of Poland did not offer any starting point for a Polish collaboration movement. Only individual collaboration was tolerated, among other things in the extermination of Polish Jews.

Even before Poland, Czechoslovakia was the first victim of German imperialism. The Nazis envisaged the destruction of civil society in the Czech Republic so that Czech fascist factions were not given any room for establishing a political collaboration movement worth mentioning. Under the leadership of Josef Tiso, the Slovak nationalists of Andrej Hlinka's Slovak People's Party reformed Slovakia into a German protectorate on 14 March 1939. Slovakia was a military ally of Germany, but it retained its autonomy, and Tiso enjoyed wide support among the population until 1943.

There was a similar situation in Croatia, which was made into a German protectorate under the leadership of the fascist Ante Pavelić a few days after the German invasion of Yugoslavia on 10 April 1941. With his Ustaše militias, he purged Croatia of Jews, Gypsies, and Serbs. In the entire territory of the multiethnic Yugoslavian state a bloody civil war developed, whereby sometimes tactical alliances were concluded with the German, Italian, and Bulgarian occupiers. This strategy did not develop into a stable collaboration policy. The same picture was to emerge in Albania and Greece, where the Italian, Bulgarian, and German occupations provoked and provided the framework for civil war.

Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria were allies of the Axis Powers, so that there was no such thing as collaboration movements in the strict sense of the term. The changing extreme-right regimes had their own agenda. They retained their sovereignty, although they had to take into account fascist movements and organizations supported by Germany inasmuch it was expedient to German interests. When Hungary was occupied by German troops on 19 March 1944, the German-minded fascist Arrow Cross Party was given free rein only when the Hungarian regime wanted to break the alliance with Germany. In addition to military security, the extermination of the Jews, with which Hungarian collaborators cooperated, was high on the German agenda.

Collaboration in the Baltic states, Byelorussia, Ukraine, and the other occupied territories of the Soviet Union showed a similar pattern. The German troops were greeted as liberators from Joseph Stalin's regime by some parts of the population, including members of the ethnic-German minorities, the byvshie liudi ("former people" of tsarist elites), and victims of Soviet repression. The Nazis' racism prevented any stable political cooperation. Attempts to establish or revive political structures such as the Byelorussian National Committee and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists were nipped in the bud. Berlin considered the Slavic population as Untermenschen (inferior people), not as potential allies. They wanted to colonize the territory, plunder it economically, and drive out, exterminate, or enslave the local population. The German occupational powers exploited the ethnic discrepancies in a divide-and-rule strategy that resulted in complex and violent internal conflicts. Widespread anti-Semitism among the Baltic and Slavic population was exploited in the extermination of the Jewish population. The battle against "Judeobolshevism" was an ideological basis for collaboration. In addition, the war against communist partisans was critical for considerable police collaboration. When in 1943, as a result of the turning fortunes of war, there was yet more room for political cooperation, it was largely limited to the use of local populations and Russian prisoners of war (POWs) in military and paramilitary formations that were employed behind the front in the war against partisans. Attempts to bring about a political movement around the Russian army general and POW Andrei Vlasov misfired. As early as 1942 Vlasov had made an offer to form a "liberation army" consisting of Russian POWs. Only in November 1944 did he receive a green light to form the Russian Liberation Army, which was deployed on the eastern front.


Political collaboration was often the basis for other forms of collaboration. Supplying manpower for the war and occupation activities was a way of proving loyalty to the occupier while simultaneously acquiring a local basis for power. The recruitment of personnel for military units, paramilitary guard units, and all kinds of administrative and economic control services often happened through the organizations of political collaborators, which did not prevent the event of an inflow of apolitical collaborators who committed themselves for reasons of livelihood, personal opportunism, or adventurism. In the transfer of information to the occupier, personal motives often played a part, while certain forms of administrative and police collaboration involved the systematic leaking of sensitive information to the occupier and therefore gave rise to "structural betrayal."

Political collaboration was framed by cultural and ideological collaboration by intellectuals, artists, and writers who used their talents to legitimize the cooperation with the occupier. Their collaboration consisted of the distribution of ideas that often had concrete implications. They inspired and legitimized others to collaborate. In particular, the battle on the eastern front against "irreligious bolshevism" gave rise to varied and extensive propaganda that stimulated many to volunteer for the German army.

By signing conscription contracts, military collaborators became subjected to German martial laws, whereby they were bound for a certain period or even for the duration of the war. Turning one's back on collaboration implied desertion for them. In the beginning of the war and before the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, military collaboration was not yet a reality. Serving in the then still victorious German army was considered an honor that was reserved only for "Germanics." The SS recruited volunteers in occupied "Germanic" countries for the Waffen-SS. After Operation Barbarossa, all over occupied Europe anti-Bolshevik legions were founded that were also deployed in the Wehrmacht. In the racist Waffen-SS too there was an influx of non-Germans. SS units were founded in the Balkans, the Baltic states, Central Asia, and Caucasia. At the end of the war the Waffen-SS had approximately two hundred thousand non-Germans. Even more military collaborators fought in the Wehrmacht. Particularly in the Balkans and eastern Europe the volume of military collaboration was very great. But because of the specific conditions in which they aligned themselves with the occupier and under which they operated, military collaborators could easily change sides by defecting to the partisans or the Red Army, which happened frequently starting in 1943.

Economic collaboration is the most complex form of collaboration because it was (and is) very difficult to draw the line between what was perceived as permitted and nonpermitted cooperation. Direct supplies of arms and war infrastructure were generally labeled as collaboration, while indirect industrial cooperation was considered to be unavoidable, as was voluntary work by employees in German industry. A special form of economic collaboration was the exploitation of stolen Jewish property.


After the retreat of the occupier, collaborators were the target of the population's revenge and the reckoning of the Resistance with its enemies. In the days immediately after the liberation there were more or less spontaneous waves everywhere whereby collaborators were traced, taken prisoner, and sometimes killed. The degree to which society was stabilized during the war and had been the scene of violence also determined the volume and violence of this cleanup. Visual forms of collaboration—for example, uniformed military or paramilitary collaborators—were easy targets. Certain forms of collaboration evoked popular fury, such as certain visual forms of economic collaboration (the so-called war profiteers) or the "horizontal collaboration" of women who had entered into sexual relationships with the occupier. Punishment sometimes consisted of a well-defined repertoire, such as destruction of property or shaving off women's hair. Betrayal was also judged a great sin, but was often far more difficult to prove.

The so-called popular repression came to an end when the postwar regime took hold again because, among other things, the monopoly on violence returned to the hands of the authorities. This was the starting signal for judicial repression whereby collaborators had to justify themselves in court. All over Europe collaborators were punished. Thousands of death sentences were pronounced and executed. Hundreds of thousands of collaborators ended up imprisoned for shorter or longer periods of time. There were great differences in judicial procedures between countries, depending on events during the occupation, the legal tradition, and whether or not a constitutional state was founded after the Nazi dictatorship. On this subject there were again major differences between the West European democracies and the new dictatorships in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Collaborators often remained pariahs in society after the completion of their legal punishment, although that was largely dependent on the degree to which they were able to construct a socially accepted legitimization for their actions during the occupation. Thus collaborators were sometimes rehabilitated by nationalistic movements if they were able to present their collaboration as a national war of liberation. By contrast, certain forms of collaboration that were pardoned in the postwar period were not accepted later on because of a changed social climate. Thus involvement in the extermination of Jews became more heavily reckoned starting in the 1960s, which resulted in trials and sentences through the end of the twentieth century.

See alsoOccupation, Military; Pétain, Philippe; Quisling, Vidkun; Resistance; Vlasov Armies.


Andreyev, Catherine. Vlasov and the Russian Liberation Movement: Soviet Reality and Émigré Theories. Cambridge, U.K., 1987.

Burrin, Philippe. France under the Germans: Collaboration and Compromise. Translated by Janet Lloyd. New York, 1996.

Hoidal, Oddvar K. Quisling: A Study in Treason. Oxford, U.K., 1989.

Lagrou, Pieter. The Legacy of Nazi Occupation: Patriotic Memory and National Recovery in Western Europe, 1945–1965. Cambridge, U.K., 2000.

Paxton, Robert O. Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940–1944. New York, 1972. Reprint, with new introduction, New York, 2001.

B. De Wever

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A Hollywood myth has it that the composer Arnold Schoenberg once wrote a film score on the mistaken presumption that a motion picture would subsequently be made to match his music. The story suggests that misconceptions about the nature of the collaborative process have quite likely always cropped up among the creative forces involved in filmmaking. With rare exceptions, such as the work of fiercely independent experimentalists like Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas, filmmaking is decidedly not, as the popular director Frank Capra (1897–1991) once put it and the auteurs of the French New Wave insisted, a "one man/one film" proposition. Even Capra's own best work in the 1930s involved a fruitful collaboration with the producer Harry Cohn, the playwright-screenwriter Robert Riskin, and the lovable stars and character actors, including James Stewart, Jean Arthur, and James Gleason, with whom he was long associated. Then of course there was Capra's audience, whose tastes and expectations were always crucial factors in the "creative" process. By contrast, the writer-director Preston Sturges (1898–1959), Capra's contemporary, openly celebrated his partnerships with cast and crew in his notable series of comic masterpieces from the 1940s.

Collaboration is the very essence of the art of filmmaking. The challenge of uniting word and image involves close collaboration between the writer, director, and cinematographer. Beyond this, the production of motion pictures involves ongoing collaboration among producers, directors, actors, writers, cameramen, editors, composers, sound technicians, art directors, and production designers. A presiding vision is needed, of course, but it takes an army of creative and technical specialists to produce the end result, whether a work of art or an entertaining commodity. Subsequent distribution and exhibition, moreover, involves a highly complex partnership of publicists, marketing analysts, and theater owners. The studio period in "classical" Hollywood, roughly from 1925 to 1960, affords the clearest demonstration of this collaborative process. Counterbalancing the auteurist notion of the creative individual is the collective aspect of Hollywood filmmaking—what the film critic André Bazin (1918–1958) in 1957 termed "the genius of the system."


From the very inception of the film industry, from the ranks of relatively anonymous individuals plying their respective trades, certain creative collectives emerged that represent film history's most exemplary partnerships. Beginning in the mid-1890s, groundbreaking entrepreneurial inventors—Auguste (1862–1954) and Louis Lumière (1864–1948) in France, and William K. L. Dickson (1860–1935) and Thomas Edison (1847–1931) in America—formed partnerships to develop and exploit a system for photographing and exhibiting motion pictures. The Vitagraph Company, the most important of the pre-1910 American studios, was the first to build up a stock company of players and directors, including Florence Turner, Maurice Costello, and John Bunny. In 1911 Gaston Méliès (1843–1915) emigrated from France to Texas to form his Star Ranch stock company for the production of westerns, including The Immortal Alamo (1911), the first film ever made on that subject. D. W. Griffith (1875–1948) formed his own stock company of actors and technicians for the more than four hundred one- and two-reelers he directed for the Biograph Studio from 1909 to 1913. Late in 1911 in Los Angeles, Thomas Ince (1882–1924) established Inceville, a self-contained facility for the production of westerns and dramas that systematized standard studio working procedures under one roof, featuring backlots, stages, dressing rooms, prop storage, a power house, and administration offices. The founders of United Artists, Mary Pickford (1892–1979), Douglas Fairbanks (1883–1939), Charlie Chaplin (1889–1977), and Griffith, worked throughout the 1920s with their own respective production companies, each a collective consisting of hand-picked artists and craftsmen. In the 1920s and 1930s producers such as Adolph Zukor (1873–1976) established factory systems that manufactured, distributed, and exhibited films in the assembly-line fashion pioneered by the automobile industrialist Henry Ford and which was soon to become the dominant production paradigm throughout the world. The so-called Big Five studios—RKO, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and MGM—were small cities, combining soundstages, backlots, carpentry shops, and administrative offices.

In the studio era, genre films, in particular, demanded systematic efficiency. In the 1930s no studio surpassed Warner Bros. in its flood of Depression-era gangster and social-problem films, crafted with machinelike efficiency by a stable of producers, contract directors, technicians, and performers, including the producer Darryl F. Zanuck (1902–1979), director Michael Curtiz, and actors James Cagney and Bette Davis. At MGM the producer Arthur Freed worked systematically with directors (Vincente Minnelli, George Sidney, and Stanley Donen), choreographers (Hermes Pan), and performers (Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, Donald O'Connor) in a celebrated series of musical comedies. RKO made use of the talents of the set designer Van Nest Polglase, the storyboard artist Perry Ferguson, and the directors George Stevens and Lloyd Bacon for the elegant Astaire-Rogers musicals. At Fox, Zanuck gathered around him a team of writers (including Dudley Nichols), directors (Henry King, H. Bruce Humberstone), and a stable of "Fox Blondes" (Alice Faye, Betty Grable, and June Haver) for a series of literary adaptations (such as The Grapes of Wrath in 1940) and splashily nostalgic backstage Technicolor musicals (Down Argentine Way in 1940 and Hello Frisco, Hello in 1943). Meanwhile, maverick Orson Welles (1915–1985) brought his Mercury Theatre team from Broadway to Hollywood and produced a masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941); but when the creative lights were no longer able to work harmoniously with RKO executives, the partnership deteriorated, and what followed was the unfinished The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and a host of flawed (albeit memorable) productions. Significantly, Welles's later work without his Mercury colleagues was never as productive. The same might be said about Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) in the 1970s and later. Kubrick enjoyed a much-vaunted independence with Warner Bros., but his idiosyncratic Barry Lyndon (1975) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999) hardly matched the standards set by Paths of Glory (1957) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

Within the studio system, headlining actors like Mary Pickford and Frances Marion depended on collaborations with writers to obtain scripts tailored to their special talents. Comedians such as Chaplin did their best work when cameramen such as Rollie Totheroh adapted their techniques appropriately. Directors leaned on the talents of sympathetic scenarists, as Billy Wilder did with Charles Brackett; on composers (Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann, Michael Curtiz and Max Steiner); on editors (Orson Welles and Robert Wise); and on stars (John Ford and John Wayne, Clarence Brown and Greta Garbo, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton). Animators such as Walt Disney (1901–1966) and the Fleischer Brothers (Max [1883–1972] and Dave [1894–1979]) relied on a creative stable of artists, story men, inkers, and sound technicians. Despite the appearance of Walt Disney's name above the title of every product released from his studio, he practiced what he called "committee" art, dependent on the contributions of his associates, particularly those top animation producers affectionately known as the Nine Old Men.

Meanwhile, foreign filmmakers were making similar collaborative advances. In Sweden the directors Mauritz Stiller (1883–1928) and Victor Sjöström (1879–1960) worked closely with the Svenska Filmindustri entrepreneur Charles Magnusson and with cinematographers such as Julius Jaenzon and writers such as the novelist Selma Lagerlöf to produce notable comedies and dramas before 1925, including Berg-Ejvind och hans hustru (The Outlaw and His Wife, Sjöström, 1918), Erotikon (Stiller, 1920), and Gösta Berlings saga (The Saga of Gosta Berling, Stiller, 1924). Sweden again came into prominence after World War II, when the existentialist director Ingmar Bergman (b. 1918) turned from theater to cinema. Bergman's allegorical fable of faith, Det Sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal, 1957), for example, perfectly captured the concerns of what has been called the postwar Age of Anxiety. Bergman's governing conception begins with the image of a knight returning from the Crusades, surviving by his wits in a plague-ridden country. Creating the black-and-white starkness of his vision required an effective collaboration between the director and his gifted cameraman Gunnar Fischer, who worked on many early Bergman films (Sven Nykvist shot most of the later ones).

Using the full resources of the German studio combine known as UFA, Fritz Lang (1890–1976) worked with his wife, the scenarist Thea von Harbou, on his spectacular 1920s successes, Die Nibelungen (1924), Metropolis (1927), and Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon, 1929). Jean Renoir (1894–1979) and Marcel Carné (1909–1996) reached the full flowering of their careers in the 1930s in their collaborations with Popular Front and "poetic realist" artists like the writer and actor Jacques Prévert, the designer Eugène Lourié, and actors Jean Gabin and Arletty. In Russia in the 1920s the triumvirate of director Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948), cinematographer Eduard Tisse, and scenarist Grigori Aleksandrov produced several of Soviet Russia's most esteemed films, including Bronenosets Potyomkin (Battleship Potemkin, 1925), Oktyabr (Ten Days That Shook the World and October, 1927), and Staroye i novoye (Old and New, 1929). The Japanese master Akira Kurosawa (1910–1998) was associated with the performances of Toshiro Mifune, a director-actor pairing no less significant than the John Ford–John Wayne association. Moreover, Kurosawa consistently worked with the cinematographer Asakazu Nakai and composer Fumio Hayasaka within a studio system that enforced ensemble collaboration. The postwar Italian cinema came to global prominence in the collaboration of the neorealist director Vittorio De Sica (1902–1975) with scenarist Cesare Zavattini (1902–1989) on Ladridibiciclette (Bicycle Thieves, 1948) and Umberto D (1952). De Sica translated the economic desolation of postwar Europe into human terms through his work with Zavattini, who laid out the groundwork for neorealist cinema, the purpose of which was to find significance in the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.


In the late twentieth century, traditional concepts and practices in the collaborative nature of filmmaking began to be challenged. On the one hand, the proliferation of camcorder and digital technologies has taken filmmaking out of the studio and away from its cadres of artists and craftspeople, placing the whole endeavor in the hands of amateurs. As if to fulfill the prophecy of Alexandre Astruc's 1946 theoretical formulation of the caméra-stylo, or "camera pen," even the most unpracticed among them can now capture image and sound with mobility and ease, working in relative solitude, relieved of the need for sound engineers, camera operators, focus pullers, editors, special effects technicians, and most of the rest of the elaborate apparatus of the film studio (Astruc in Graham). First-time filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (b. 1968), for example, made El Mariachi (1992) for a comparative pittance and with minimal dependence on a technical crew. At first glance, such a film and such wide-open filmmaking possibilities seem to bear out the auteur theory, which grew out of Astruc's pronouncements and subsequent writings by Bazin in Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s, and which was imported to the United States in the early 1960s by the critic Andrew Sarris (b. 1928). Over time, the auteurist position that the director is the prime creative force has been counter-manded by assertions that the true auteur is, variously, the writer, screenwriter, producer, editor, or cameraman. All of which proves, ironically, that not just one but all the participants in the filmmaking process deserve a measure of responsibility for the final product.

Filmmakers from the Danish movement known as Dogma 95 have in fact affirmed the primacy not of the director or any other individual but of the collaborative. The first Dogma Manifesto, delivered by Lars von Trier (b. 1956) in 1995, proclaimed that no credit for "Director" would be permitted on their films. Their movies were the result of partnership and interchange among cast and crew. The semi-improvised, location-shot films of the period from 1995 to 2000, including Festen (The Celebration, Thomas Vinterberg, 1998), Mifunes sidste sang (Mifune, Søren Kragh-Jacobson, 1999), Idioterne (The Idiots, Lars von Trier, 1998), and The King Is Alive (Kristian Levring, 2000), stand as testaments to Dogma's collective ideals.

After a century of cinema, the Dogma collective seems to have turned the wheel of film history full circle. The idea of abolishing the identity of the director hark back to the days of the silents, when viewers were kept guessing about the identities of the personnel behind and on the screen. Viewers of The Great Train Robbery in 1903, for example, were not told (and perhaps did not care to know) the identities of its director, players, and cinematographer. This film became famous for what it was, not for who was in it or who made it. The idea that individual authorship should be subordinated to the work has a long and vibrant history. In Elizabethan theater, as performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men or at London's Royal Court Theatre, the play was the thing (according to no less an authority than Shakespeare). The primacy of the work itself was also a hallmark of the ensembles of Stanislavsky and Meyerhold's Moscow Art Theatre and of Bertolt Brecht's Berliner Ensemble. Like the theater, cinema is an arena for both individual and collaborative genius.

SEE ALSO Acting;Auteur Theory and Authorship;Crew;Direction;Production Process


Bazin, André. What Is Cinema? 2 vols. Edited and translated by Hugh Gray. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson. The Classical Hollywood Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

Gomery, Douglas. Movie History: A Survey. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1991.

Graham, Peter, ed. The New Wave. London: Secker and Warburg, 1968.

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John C. Tibbetts

Jim Welsh

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Genocide in the twentieth century occurred with increasing frequency, from the Armenian catastrophe of World War I, to the Nazi extermination of six million European Jews, to the massacres of their own people by Soviet and Chinese communist leaders. In each of these cases government policies encouraged participation by local populations in the killing, as informants, auxiliary security forces, or even executioners.

Terms and Definitions

The term collaboration is often associated with the betrayal of one's nation to serve a foreign power, and many of those who did so believed they were serving the interests of their country, as well as themselves, by participating in actions at the behest of an outside force, usually the political leadership of another state. Collaboration is also the active participation in genocide by groups or individuals. Collaborators differ from perpetrators in that they are not the initiators of mass murder, but instead provide assistance out of opportunism, ideology, religious hatred, or psychological conditioning. For example, although members of the Nazi SS Action Groups (SS Einsatzgruppen) on the Eastern Front were the primary perpetrators of the Holocaust, especially in 1941 and 1942, Ukrainian peasants who reported hidden Jews were collaborators. Similarly, while many SS officials in occupied France were perpetrators with the primary task of deporting Jews to death camps, the Vichy French police who aided in the location and arrest of Jews were collaborators.


The same terms hold true with other cases of genocide over the past century. In the Armenian genocide of World War I the perpetrators were primarily Ottoman military forces concerned about Armenian identification with the Russian enemy. In the commission of this genocide, however, local Turkish villagers in Eastern Anatolia and other provinces collaborated with the forces of the state, denying refuge and aid to those attempting to escape, and protecting only those Armenian women willing to convert to Islam and abandon their Christian heritage. The genocide of 1.5 million Armenians was made possible by collaboration.

The wars in the former Yugoslavia, from 1991 to 1999, involved not just the Serbian military and police forces of Slobodan Milosevic, but also Serbian vigilante groups recruited from peasants and workers throughout Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Bosnia, and other regions. These collaborators, although often not formed into organizations of the Yugoslav government, or given any clear guidance from the regime in Belgrade, nonetheless assisted in attacks on other ethnic groups—principally Croatians and Muslim Bosnians—or took opportunistic advantage by occupying the homes and land of those who had been ethnically cleansed. The result was over 200,000 killed and two million refugees, many murdered or uprooted by their neighbors.

The Holocaust

Even in areas not directly occupied by the perpetrating regime, collaborators can exist among the political leadership and security forces of other states. As the most widespread case of genocide in the twentieth century, the Holocaust of European Jews and other minorities provides examples of every kind of approach to collaboration: coperpetrators, collaborators, bystanders, and resisters.

Among the Axis nations, which were allies of Nazi Germany, some states joined in its enthusiastic persecution and destruction of Jews, Romani, and others. In Slovakia and Romanian-occupied territory in the former Soviet Union, the Holocaust took on significant similarities to that practiced by the Third Reich. The Hlinka Guard in Slovakia, a clerical fascist party, killed or aided in the deportation of nearly the entire Jewish Slovak population. Romania was unique, in that while the pro-German government refused to exterminate Jewish citizens on its own soil, its forces murdered tens of thousands of Jews in southwestern Ukraine, which it occupied from 1941 to 1944, even Romanian Jews who had been deported to the area.

The Nazis also found collaborators in the territories they occupied, even when their policies were harsh toward the non-Jewish civilian population. In the USSR local militias in the Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia welcomed the German invasion as liberation from Communism, an ideology they identified with Jews. Nationalistic Baltic citizens created militia groups in response to the collapse of Soviet authority in the summer of 1941 and actively collaborated in the extermination of Jewish communities, in some cases even before the arrival of the first German military or SS forces. The same held true in the Ukraine, where thousands volunteered to assist in the murder of Jews, or reported on hidden Jews or their protectors.

Even some neutral states aided in Nazi efforts to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Switzerland, for example, routinely returned Jewish refugees to Nazi control, and others, including Turkey and Spain, refused to allow Jews to cross their borders unless they had visas allowing them to transit to a third nation, thereby in effect condemning these victims to a terrible fate.

Vichy France, the rump state left after France's defeat in 1940, is a distinct case. Although never officially a member of the Axis and occupied by Nazi Germany after the November 1942 Allied landings in North Africa, it nonetheless played an important role in extending the Holocaust to France. Although the regime of Marshall Henri Pétain and Pierre Laval never officially joined the Axis, it did provide indispensable support to the Nazi extermination of Jews. Vichy police participated in the round-ups of French and foreign Jews in France, and were very effective collaborators even after the Nazi occupation of 1942.

Some states in the Axis, most notably Bulgaria and Italy, before Benito Mussolini's overthrow in 1943, were less collaborationist. Bulgaria's leadership, despite strong German pressure, refused to surrender Bulgarian Jews to the Holocaust, supported in this decision by the local population, Orthodox clergy, and nearly all political organizations. Even Mussolini, so loyal in his devotion to Hitler in other matters, refused to deport Italian Jews to their deaths in Nazi-occupied territory. Some Jews had even been active in the initial leadership of the Fascist Party, although the anti-Semitic measures introduced by Mussolini's government in 1938 put an end to this involvement. In the two cases it seems to have been national pride, rather than any particular identification with Jews, that protected both communities.


What motivates collaboration? Why do some chose to participate in genocide? There are a variety of motives, but one sobering truth remains: No twentieth-century regime bent on committing mass murder or genocide has lacked collaborators. Four major factors have been most important in motivating collaboration in genocide: political ideology, opportunism, religious hatred, and psychological conditioning.

Collaboration based on political ideology occurs when there is a convergence of political objectives between the primary perpetrators and others. An example would be the Arrow Cross movement in Hungary during World War II. Even though a German ally, Hungarian dictator Miklós Horthy opposed the Holocaust and gave sanctuary to Jews until 1944. The Hungarian Arrow Cross movement, however, was enthusiastically pro-Nazi anti-Semitic and willingly assisted in the deportation and execution of Jews, eventually arresting Horthy when he tried to stop the killings. The political identification of the Arrow Cross with Nazi Germany was nearly complete, making collaboration an imperative for party members.

Collaboration also arises from opportunistic motives. In occupied Poland the German Order Police and SS offered bribes to peasants who would inform on hidden Jews or act as guides in leading Nazi forces to their locations. While in some cases the Germans offered direct payments of salt, sugar, or alcohol, in other cases they merely held out the opportunity to plunder the possessions of captured Jews. Other Poles blackmailed Jews to provide money or other treasures rather than reporting them to the occupation authorities, but often did so anyway once the savings of such desperate Jews were exhausted.

In addition, collaboration frequently stems from religious hatred or indifference. Catholic priests and members of religious orders collaborated with genocide perpetrated by the Nazis and the Croatian Ustasha satellite regime, including sanctioning the forced conversions of Serbian Orthodox believers and deportations of Jews, Serbs, and Romani to concentration camps. Although some priests opposed the exterminations that followed, few dissented from the Croatian program to remove the Serbian and Jewish populations, resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 Serbs and 50,000 Yugoslav Jews.

Psychological conditioning was also an important factor in promoting collaboration. On the Eastern Front soldiers received lessons in anti-Semitism and Nazi racial theory from educational officers attached to the German army. This, coupled with years of Nazi propaganda in German schools, entertainment, and military training facilities encouraged German soldiers to regard Jews, Russians, and Poles as subhuman, and unworthy of living. Although regular German military forces in World War II did not initially participate in genocide, soon after the invasion of the USSR in June 1941 their forces did provide support to SS actions, and later participated in atrocities against the civilian population and Soviet prisoners of war.

Collaboration was a widespread response to Nazi occupation policies and military victories, and was more common than direct resistance. Given the dominance of Hitler's Germany on the European continent and the benefits to be derived from cooperation, the question is perhaps not why so many collaborated with the Third Reich, but why more did not.

SEE ALSO Bystanders; Perpetrators


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Bowen, Wayne H. (2000). Spaniards and Nazi Germany: Collaboration in the New Order. Columbia, Mo.: University of Missouri Press.

Browning, Christopher (1992). Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: HarperCollins.

Conway, Martin (1993). Collaboration in Belgium: Léon Degrelle and the Rexist Movement, 1940–1944. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Hilberg, Raul (1992). Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933–1945. New York: HarperCollins.

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Tomasevich, Jozo (2001). War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Wayne H. Bowen

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Collaboration (Magazine)

Quarterly journal concerned with the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and his successor, The Mother (Mira Richard, 1878-1973). It carries news of Auroville, the New Age city near Pondicherry, and the various Aurobindo centers in the United States. It may be contacted through the Sri Aurobindo Association, Box 163237, Sacramento, CA 95816-9237.

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collaboration traitorous cooperation with an enemy; the term was particularly used of those in occupied countries who cooperated with the Axis forces in the Second World War.